“December 1938 was a decisive month in human history: In Germany, the scientists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann discovered that when bombarded with neutrons, the atomic nucleus of uranium would split. The discovery of nuclear fission laid the basis of nuclear technology with all its manifestations – in the short term, the most destructive weapon ever devised and used a few years later in the Second World War.”
With these words the Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO), Lassina Zerbo opened his key-note speech at the International Press Service Achievement Award for Nuclear Disarmament at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 17 November. The CTBTO head praised this year IPS award recepient, Jayantha Dhanapala for his outstanding service to advance nuclear arms disarmament.
Throughout his career, Dhanapala persistently continued to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction and, in 2013, he joined Zerbo in the Group of Eminent Persons (GEM), launched to ensure an innovative approach to advancing the CTBT’s entry into force.
“Jayantha Dhanapala’s life story is linked closely to that of nuclear arms control, and in particular to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty… Jayantha is active in probably all of the world’s most important advisory boards and international bodies. Notably, he is the president of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, and a member of the Governing Board of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). For these reasons and more, I invited him to join the Group of Eminent Persons (GEM)… Jayantha and I both come from countries in the developing world. One of the most persuasive arguments he has consistently made is the opportunity cost a developing country incurs when embarking on a weapons of mass destruction programme.”